Prayer for Newtown II

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Lord, we can­not
lift up our hearts
to­day. The hot
breath of chaos draws
tears from our eyes.
We crouch in silent 
play­grounds trem­bling
as lit­tle ghosts
tum­ble by in wakes
of leaves. We stare
hol­low-eyed as we
enu­mer­ate the paths
of could have
lead to any­where
but here. We press
against the door,
hide in the closet,
call to you,
but evil seeks us
out and we can­not
lift up our hearts
be­cause we are
plac­ing them in a score of tiny
shrouds 
at
your feet. 

Prayer for Newtown I

In this time
of trial I ask not
for the emp­tied skull
of my en­emy, your
in­ter­ces­sion in flame
and ret­rib­ution, the
ces­sa­tion of bloody
palms, or a salve for
all the skin-stripped 
and salted breath­less
held souls of America.

I do not ask for
the re­turn of a Savior
whose death for our
sins seems a half
mea­sure com­pared to
the grin­ning demons
our lost boys be­come.

I do not ask for hope;
I ask for amnesty.

You say we stole
the knowl­edge
of good & evil — let us re­turn it.

If not, fin­ish us 
off for good
be­fore we do it
our­selves,
for evil. 

Newtown’s Law

Friday, 14 December 2012

there are many holes
too wide and deep
to be filled by eyes they
are stepped
around
gin­gerly of
heels placed
with
pains
tak­ing
care a blind dance
of
fis­sured
eyes
averted of
shak­ing hands
cir­cum­scrib­ing the void
piece­meal 
at
this pit of
botched
com­mu­niqué
silent sta­tic
and dead chil­dren
no one
looks up
while
lead keeps 
falling
from
the sky.

Some tragedies are be­yond my scope of em­pa­thy. Some ra­tio­nales ex­ceed my ca­pac­ity to set aside love. If I can’t write about I try to write around, to show the shape of what I can’t de­scribe. This poem could ap­ply to any gun mas­sacre, but to­day it is for Newtown, CT.

Stoplight

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Three named
clothes­pins play
daily hop­scotch on
three sheets of
con­struc­tion pa­per.
The dog is on
red. We caught her on
the couch. My son (on green)
is the ar­biter of her color and
mine. I choose his, but he
moves the pins.
I should prob­a­bly be
on yel­low
every day. I’m
lucky he’s in
charge. 

Prayer and Agoniste

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

It de­rived from the blown and cratered
gristle of Sinai, oral lore cod­i­fied
by re­lent­less cen­turies of in­fant skin
scraps, torn hair, and bloody stones
yet, now, once, we upon a

time saw a sin­gu­lar sheep, fresh
sheared, in-penned, dulled by
child­ish pats, ever beshep­herded.
once seen, but not since.
and, told we are sheep for 

shep­herds, sinly con­science
ob­sti­nate, ab­sti­nent, stolen from
Eden, so its use must be wrong, right
from prey­ing ju­das goats.

O my God, 
to be a farmer like Cain, the sac­ri­fice
ac­cepted as rot rather than holo­caust,
a sea­son, then re­newal, time more your style.
O my God,

I know you through my salt crusted 
fore­head and dirty fin­gers, I know you
through scum and dung and
des­per­a­tion. O my God, I feel you in gripped fists and blaz­ing eyes.

A thou­sand years of hum­ble hom­i­lies
a de­sert kin­dred up­thrust and by
now — for­got­ten the forked tongue.
why should we be sheep when you made
us men?

we used to speak with the jaw­bones of
the wild ass, long-haired
no­mads, singing in 
rough­spun wool. 

I’m ba­si­cally us­ing my rusty an­thro­po­log­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion and sundry other learn­ing to ex­press ex­as­per­a­tion re­gard­ing the Christian em­pha­sis that we are sheep and God shep­herds us. That’s an easy metaphor used by a no­madic tribe of herders to ex­plain their the­ol­ogy in terms they could un­der­stand. Since sheep are con­sid­ered re­mark­ably dumb and meek, it’s also a use­ful way for, say, a priestly hi­er­ar­chy to en­force con­trol and ad­her­ence for a few thou­sand years. 

We can be God’s and be men as well. He’s not the God of sheep.

Cuckoo Wasps

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

and as the winged
in­sects pour forth from hinged
skull, a stretch no
more than rea­son — the tim­balous
rudi­ments of flight on frisk­ing
wings — the sta­ples of sum­mered
dusk — late sun shat­ter­ing
on nicks of stained
glass — of in­fil­tra­tion — a stolen clasp of mind — a de­canted vac­uum where
once built an in­side city — fed upon by ban­dit
bril­liance and husked by
the great abate­ment

there ap­pears in the sky
the first swal­low
of many. 

This is one of those flank­ing po­ems, like a sheep­dog, spi­ral­ing in on a point that, in this case, re­mains shrouded in the metaphor. Basically the idea is that ideas are all mostly stolen. They’re pretty food, and when you all of yours get eaten by some­thing, you can al­ways eat some­one else’s. Still not ex­actly right, but over-ex­plain­ing doesn’t do much to sate the ap­petite.